On Any Given Day, Some of Your Technology Sucks

Decided to look at the Firefox 3 Release Candidate, then decided to uninstall it and reinstall Firefox 2, whereupon Firefox decided it didn’t want to work any more. Did a system Restore for before the FF3 installation — Firefox still didn’t want to work. Did various other fiddling; Firefox still recalcitrant. At which point I said “Screw you, Firefox” and downloaded Flock and imported my bookmarks, etc. from Firefox. And that where things are now.

There might be a day before I die where all my technology works as it is supposed to, but, you know, when that day comes, I might be so surprised that I keel over. And there’s irony for you.

Now I’m going to upload this via Flock’s blogging tool and see if it messes up everything. I expect it will. Because it’s just that sort of day.

34 Comments on “On Any Given Day, Some of Your Technology Sucks”

  1. What was wrong with Firefox 3. (And the post doesn’t look like it broke anything. Does “not meeting your negative expectations” count as a failure or a success?)

  2. Nothing was wrong with it, it just wasn’t working with some extensions I had and I decided I would wait to use it until extensions were updated.

  3. I get really tired of the drive to “fix” software that works perfectly fine. It was bloat that killed Netscape and I am really concerned that the same bloat will take down Firefox.

  4. Yes, that’s what I did when I was using Firefox regularly (re: extensions).

    I also tried a beta of Firefox 3, and have to say, I wasn’t extremely impressed. Of course, it’s still in beta, so it’s hard to fault what will eventually be the final release. That said, having been a looong-time Firefox-user, when it comes to major releases like that, I tend to backup bookmarks and little things like that, and trash the entire thing, (those hidden Mozilla files as well) and download/install the new version from scratch. That usually eliminates a lot of problems.

    But, to be honest, I don’t use Firefox anymore. It’s gotten too big and fussy. Which is ironic, because the whole big deal about it when it came out what that it was small and fast and lean. Well, I guess it was the same with Yahoo, and look what happened to that…

    Since I’m on a Mac, I am now using Safari 3, with which, I have to say, I have been very pleased. Who would’ve thunk?

  5. Steve, have you looked at what Firefox 3 does? Most of its functional changes are either streamlining things FF2 already did, or they’re (serious) performance enhancements. The new functionality is fairly limited. Firefox may be guilty of many things, but bloat isn’t one of them.

  6. Writing on the complexity of application development, Fred Brooks says that we shouldn’t be surprised when software fails to work right; indeed, we should be amazed it ever worked at all.

    Like Robert, I wasn’t particularly impressed by Firefox 3. The new functionality seems to render the interface sluggish. Yes, Firefox has grown to become its own enemy: Mozilla, circa 2003.

  7. John, your profile was almost certainly corrupted. Firefox is never very good migrating between versions and crashing is frequently a symptom of a wonky profile. Go ahead and pull the old profile out and then import what you need again (or wait for FF3 final before doing it!). The profile is located in %APPDATA%\Mozilla on Windows and ~/Library/Application Support/Firefox on OS X.

  8. Oops, a bit more clarification. Inside the profiles directory you’ll see a .default file. Go ahead and drag that out and then start up Firefox and it should run much better. Anyone who has had Firefox 3 feel more sluggish than 2 should definitely do this. You can re-import your bookmarks from the bookmarks.html file inside your profile.

    I’m typically a Safari user but Firefox 3 is a much leaner and faster beast than its predecessor in almost every case.

  9. I put it on my desktop and laptop at home last night. I don’t have that many add ons I can’t live without, so not a big deal. I actually think it runs a bit faster than the 2.x release I had. And I’ve already gotten used to the slightly different color scheme. It’s making the browser I use at work make look old.

  10. What Paul Kehrer said. Blow away your old profile, reinstall, then import you bookmarks and (if you’re feeling ambitious) history.

    Yes, this completely sucks and it’s inexcusable that the Mozilla engineers continue to let this problem fester. Oh well.

  11. Glad to see you looking at Flock. I’ve been using it for about three months now, and love it completely. The GMail, Flickr, Facebook, del.icio.us, and Digg integrations are well worth the price of admission, and I’ve never had any conflicts between Flock and any of the (many) Firefox 2 extensions I use. Never used the blogging tool, because, well, I don’t blog. Weirdly enough, it just doesn’t feel like a browser with a lot of crap bolted on. Instead, it feels like something doing a good job of being my one-stop-web-life-management tool. I’d love to hear more as you get more experience with it.

  12. cisko: I look through that list and am filled with “meh”. Most of the features I frankly don’t care about, and those that few that seem like improvements are so mild that I can’t work much energy getting excited. The only things I really care about are those under “improved performance”.

  13. Firefox 2 barely runs on my little iBook G4, but Firefox 3 runs faster, which is quite impressive under 312MB of RAM.

    On the MacBook Pro with 8GB of RAM, Firefox 3 beat up Firefox 2 speed-wise easily, and as always murders Safari 3 with StumbleUpon support (a sort of must for me, not so much for others). Memory usage is noticeably lower.

    On my Windows laptop, which is only slightly better than the G4, Firefox 3 totally wins. And killed my Greasemonkey plugin, but I’ll just wait for Greasemonkey to be compatible with Firefox 3.

    I never bothered with Flock because it *is* Firefox, and as I already use it, whatever. Though I’m curious about the blogging extensions.

    I contemplate Webkit mostly because of Google Gears and my Mac.

  14. All MY technology works at any given time. I have an iMac, April 2008 model, 2.6 GHz. I’ve had it for a little over a month – it’s never crashed or frozen. All the Apple and 3rd-party applications work fine (including FireFox.)

  15. Yeah that’s the downside of going with a beta release is the lack of extensions and skins. Fortunately there were only 2 real extensions I used but I really liked my skin. I can wait, the performance upgrade alone is quite worth it.

    On a side note about the tech issues I long got tired of having them so I “invested” in Windows Home Server back when it was in beta2. I grabbed a trash Pentium 3 box and threw in a couple of hard drives and now I have it backing up a few systems nightly. And sure enough last month something messed up my XP boot on my desktop and I was able to restore from the midnight backup from the previous day and was back up and running in an hour. I just had to re-download that day’s worth of email.

  16. The problem with programs today is not that there’s not enough memory, it’s that there’s too much memory. Work has gotten sloppy.

    Back when the Commodore 64 was the name, and IBM was a the Microsoft of mainframes, space was tight. Coding had to be tight to fit in. Yes, the look and feel was cruder, but they still managed to get some amazing work done.

    Microsoft’s role in the lowering of standards cannot be underestimated. They have long been regarded as slack workers, and rude. Many a time the superiority of Microsoft’s work for the Mac over that for Windows has surprised people. People who often forget that Mac users have choices Window users do not. If there was medication for control freaks, and it proved effective for Steve Jobs, Windows’ stranglehold on DOS machines would be ended as OSX was ported over.

    BTW, people have ported OSX over and are using it on their Dells, IBMs, and HPs among others. The place is OSx86, and they provide guidelines on installing and configuring OSX on your DOS machine

  17. I’d just like to tell you about Nightly Tester Tools, the Firefox extension that lets you override your extensions claims that they don’t work with FF3. You can find it at https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/6543

    The only extension I use (I have like 20 of them) that didn’t keep working with when I changed to FF3 RC2 was Google Gears. And Google’s fixing that (might have fixed it already for all I know).

  18. Alex#2 @ 14 –

    It’s people like you that REALLY REALLY piss off web developers like me. Please stop using intentionally-broken technology, and you’ll find we developers can much more easily make a much better web experience for you. Seriously, cut that shit out.


  19. @ 19 # Tumbleweed

    And its people like you who insist that what I am using is intentionally broken that really pisses me off. IE7 has a very clean minimalistic interface and when I click on a link displayed in a program it never opens it up the wrong browser. IE integrates well with the customizable color scheme in vista (I’m an aestetics whore) and every single web based media plugin works right without telling me to move files around. I’ve used firefox and opera, both had little things wrong with them that bothered me from time to time.

    Also, if you can’t develop a web experience that works with IE I’m going to call into question the quality of whatever kind of web experience it is you are trying to create.

    Unless you’re talking about integrating your own programs with browsers like firefox, in which case I can understand where you’re coming from. I’m just not interested in that kind of thing. Trust me, I already have the web experience that I want…

  20. Well, I just got zapped for a £750 (US$1,500) dollar bill for carrying my iPhone abroad. As it doesn’t come with a manual, and none of my previous smartphones just keep hoovering down data regardless of connectivity using any path possible, I wasn’t expecting it to turn a total of 30 days out of country into 130-odd meg a £6 a meg.

    The damnable, hateful hand-grenade in my pocked. $1,500 is a lot of money in America, isn’t it? It certainly is in the UK.

  21. Alex #2 @20: Mostly IE7 doesn’t actually stick to the rendering standards for HTML and CSS, which means that everybody has to basically add

    if (browser is IE) { do crazy non-standard crap so that IE’s bugs don’t actually affect the user }

    What’s even better is that different version of IE express different non-standard behaviors. So that if statement is replicated for different versions, each one doing crazy crap.

    This kind of thing no longer exists for Mozilla/Firefox or Safari so much. Which is why the fact that IE continues to not play by the rules makes web designers crazy angry.

    It’d be one thing if IE7 was like that and did something for its users, apart from being the first browser they find on their Windows box. But unfortunately IE7’s inability to stick to standards is not about bettering the user experience. Quite the contrary.

    Speaking as someone who has had to spend entire months of her life dealing with that crap, I am not upset at you. I am upset at Microsoft. It would help me if you used something other than IE7. But I know that’s not always possible. Nevertheless, that is where I come from.

    And yes, I know, it would help you if I just keep doing what I’m doing now and shut up, but if you *do* run into oddities from other sites, please realize that this might be the reason why.

    I don’t really insist on the don’t-use-IE7 stuff though. I just accept that people still using IE7 don’t really care, and that IE7 is just one of those inescapable banes that will only go away with the test of time.

    Like, I still have to support IE3.

  22. Alex,

    The problem with IE is that Microsoft *refuses* to follow web standards, which makes web design a nightmare.

    For instance, if you were to come to my personal site, it would look nice enough, but if you were to visit it again using Firefox or Seamonkey or Opera or Safari, you’d get to see all the bells and whistles that work on standard’s compliant browsers.

    I check my website in multiple browsers, including IE6 and and IE7 (I finally stopped checking it in Netscape after they stopped supporting it earlier this year) and Internet Explorer is the only browser that consistently has problems.

    To make things worse, because IE comes packaged with the Windows Operating system, it is a huge, gargantuan program. Because of this, it allows lazy web designers to keep broken code in their pages, because unlike other web browsers that try and keep their program size down, IE has lots of excess code to read bad websites that don’t follow HTML and CSS standards.

    In essence, it breaks the web for other users when lazy webmasters only check their pages in IE.

    I teach basic web design, and one of the things I emphasize is that one should never check one’s site in IE, because how pages look in IE often has no bearing on how those pages look in every other standards compliant browser on the web.

    And that is why web designers hate IE. Because Microsoft is so arrogant it doesn’t believe it has to follow the rules that every other browser follows.

    Why does it matter? Because the whole freaking POINT of the Internet is that a web page should look the same no matter what operating system or web browser you are using. Any web designer that doesn’t recognize that shouldn’t be designing web pages.

  23. Think about how long we’ve had the paper, pencil and eraser.

    Now THAT’S mature technology. User maintainable, no need for upgrades, permanent or temporary at user’s discretion. (Storage bloat, yes, but…)

    When the electronics have been around as long as those have been, maybe then we’ll be putting these kinds of issues behind us.

  24. Alex #2 – the above two posters have pointed out what I don’t have to. The part of IE7 that you like seems to be the part that has nothing to do with web site rendering, and I can respect that. The problem is, the part of the web that I can deliver as a web developer/designer is the part that IE (insert version # here) breaks HORRIBLY. And, theoretically at least, isn’t that internet part the whole REASON you’re using a web browser in the first place? The better support for standards the browser you use has, then the better a browsing experience we can make for you. At least keep up with your version – IE8 *supposedly* will have better standards support. But then again, I’ve heard that song before.

    You might try something like Flock; it may give you the integrated-with-my-pretty-OS experience you want, while supporting standards. I can’t remember what Flock looks like, so I dunno.

  25. The problem with being a bit of a technogeek is that most of us are simply incapable of resisting the latest, greatest upgrade. As somebody who likes to play with new software and hardware, I long ago decided it was in my best interest to have one computer that I try to keep as stable as possible for doing ‘real work’, and another computer that I use for messing around. It may cost me a little extra, but I like to think it saves me a lot of time and trouble.

  26. I mostly like Firefox… although it kept trying to update itself, so I eventually just turned all the updates off!!!
    I think it’s a lot easier to use than Safari, personally, although they are rather similar once a raised-on-PC’s girl has learned to adjust to a Mac.

    If Firefox ever gives me trouble, though, I shall have to look into Flock. Never heard of it until today.

  27. Look on the bright side, at least none of it plugs directly into our brains.


    “What’s wrong with John? Why’s he spinning in little circles going ‘Orf orf orf…’ like that?”

    “He downloaded a beta personal organizer…”

  28. Thanks for letting me know about the internal workings of IE. I didn’t mean to be such a flame bait, my experience with web design isn’t the most extensive, and it seems that I’ve fallen behind farther than I thought. Everyone always seems to mention that they hate IE so much, but the only point anyone makes is its security issues, many of which have been addressed in IE7.

    I guess I should check out flock, and heres to the hope that IE 8 works better on the backside.

  29. John, next time why not try a portable version, so you don’t need to uninstall/reinstall? portableapps.com has ’em within hours of the regular releases.

  30. Alex,

    The reason you mostly only hear about security issues, is because when we (web designers) go on about standards and such, most people’s eyes roll back in their heads. :)

    When I teach web design I don’t need people to walk away hating IE. I simply need people to understand it has a lot of limitations, and those limitations can be a big problem.

    And although I haven’t tried Flock yet, of all the browsers I have used, Firefox is my favorite, mostly because of the extensions that allow me to make it do what I want, be that opening new tabs to a specific page or checking my gmail and yahoo accounts, to translating rot 13 on the fly.

    Is it the best? No. But it’s my favorite for now. (Sorry Safari users, something about the layout just *bugs* me.)

  31. Sigh. Why does *no one* read the “Known Issues” list when installing software releases (even more so when it’s a pre-release version)? For FF 3.0rc2 it says right there on the tin:

    “Installing Firefox 2 in the same directory in which Firefox 3 has been installed may result in Firefox 2 being unstable (bug 423226)”. Does that sound like your problem? It seems to have been fixed for the GA version fortunately.

  32. Sorry to hear ’bout FF 3.0rc2. I just installed it and had to re-install a lot of add-ons. Shrug.

    This is something I didn’t know! –
    Traveling through a hole through the middle of the planet to the other side takes only 42 minutes. Also a tunnel followin a chord from NY –> LA – only 42 minutes! This would be an interesting public transit system for a Dyson Sphere…


    Rated G


  33. I just looked at Flock – I think I need to consider how they’re going to “get paid” and how I’ll be represented in web space before I install it and unwittingly give up all my consumer preferences to one more massively faceless search engine. I love cats but I’m getting a little piqued at how many “cat” related ads I already get. Is this a cookie thing I can turn off?

    – r

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